Browsing Homilies

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Often times I would say to people: "You are the best"  and I tried to think about where that came from, and then I remembered: 

When I was about 16 years old I was at a family gathering and after doing a favor for my uncle Ed, he said: You’re my favorite nephew. I remember telling him thank you. Now bear in mind my dad had 8 brothers so needless to say uncle Ed had a lot of nephews. Just a short time later I heard him say the same thing to one of my cousins: your my favorite nephew, so I went up to him and said uncle Ed you just told me I was your favoriteHe starting laughing and said: all you guys are my favorite. I said Gee that takes all the fun out of it. He said it works great for me and we both laughed. My uncle taught me how to affirm others. After reading today's Gospel I don’t think the disciples had an uncle EdThey didn’t know how to affirm each other or know they were all Jesus’ favorite.


What’s so sad about this is not their competitiveness but the fact they were only concerned about how people saw them and not what Jesus is dealing with. Jesus just shared with them the painful betrayal he’d hav to endure and the sufferings he would have to encounter and they didn’t even hear him.  


Knowing their minds were elsewhere Jesus asked them what they were talking about. A great silence entered the room because they’re embarrassed to admit they were talking about which of them was the greatest instead of listening to what he was telling them but Jesus doesn’t reprimand them but uses this time as a teaching moment so Jesus sits down and - calls his disciples over by him and speaks to them - about what it means to be a disciple. He states:


If anyone wants to be first, he has to be the last of all and the servant of all.  He then brings a child over and has him stand in their midst and putting his arm around him says Whoever receives a child such as this in my name receives me and whoever receives me, receives not me but the one who sent me


In other words if you want to be close to the Father you have to be close to the son and if you want to be close to the son you have to be close to those who have the most innocent of hearts. - How does one become innocent of heart


In our 2nd reading today, St James’ speaks about how disorder can easily enter our hearts. He equates jealousy with ambition - two traits that seem opposite but when linked to selfishness and greed can become very destructive. He begins by asking who among you is wise and understanding. Let him show his good works. Living a good life and being humble comes from wisdom, but if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts do not boast, for wisdom of this kind does not come down from above but is earthly, unspiritual and even demonic. Where jealousy and selfish ambition exists, there’s disorder and every foul practice, but wisdom from above is pure, peaceable, gentle and full of mercy, and produces good fruitThe fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace. Listen to those words again: The fruit of righteousness - is sown in peace - for those who cultivate peace.


St James asks where do the wars and conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members. He then asks why we would we covet something - when we will never possess it anyway, or why be envious - when we will never be able to obtain it anyway. He tells us we do not possess what is good because we don’t ask for what’s good and when we do ask we don’t receive because we ask only of those things to satisfy our passions and our desires and not what God wants for us A lover of the world means - enmity with God, in other words when we get so caught up with things we don’t have time for God - because all those things leave no time for God


St James tells us that if we are serious about our faith we have to put God first. The apostles were concerned about what people think about them all the while Jesus is trying to speak to them and they don’t hear anything he’s telling them.  


Unfortunately some people believe - if they want to be the best - they can’t be spending time in church. Those of you who are here obviously don’t think that way so thank you for coming to Church and choosing to spend this hour with our Lord. My parents always tried to impress upon us the importance of going to mass and to listening to gospel. 


I remember when I was about 9 years old, we had just come from mass and my mom questioning us about the homilyI hadn’t been listening. My older sister was listening and was able to answer her questions. When she calls on me and I couldn’t remember anything. She then told me I would have to go to mass again with my dad and I’m thinking there’s no way I am going to mass again, of course I have no say in the matter. My dad was nice about it and on the way back we stopped for something to eat. Then while we were driving home my dad said something I will never forget Some day you will thank me for this and I’m thinking; “I will never thank you for this. I didn’t say it out loud because I didn’t want to go to mass a third time.


Over 25 years later, six months before I was ordained, I thought I should thank dad for taking me to mass a 2nd time. I remember when I thanked him he said I don’t remember that and I said: What do you mean you don’t remember that you had to go to mass a 2nd time, and He said Tom I just don’t remember. I then said to him “that was the most devastating day of my life” and dad laughs and says, well sorry about that. This is why I knew my parent’s faith was important to them. It inspired me to look at my own faith and stay close to Jesus.  


You may not have an uncle Ed who affirms you or makes you feel important but you do have a heavenly father who loves you and who was willing to send his only son into the world so you could have eternal life. Remember the words of St James who says: Do not let jealousy or selfish ambition rule your hearts but practice the wisdom that comes from above that’s peaceable, gentle and full of mercy, then you will come to know God’s love and become humble of heart.


         “Cleanse your hands and purify your hearts, lament for wrong

           doing…  Humble yourselves before God and he will exalt you.”  


       (and yes Jeanie Moxen and Gery Farrell - uncle Ed was your dad) 


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